Saturday 16 March 2013

UPDATED: First Reviews for The Croods Surface

DreamWorks' first film of 2013, The Croods, opens a week yesterday, and, as such, reviews are slowly starting to roll out, and, while they're so far pretty good, they're not as good as we might have hoped.

The Croods is directed by the duo of Chris Sanders (How to Train Your Dragon) and Kirk DeMicco (Space Chimps) and follows the life-changing exploits of "the world's first family", as they journey across a breathtaking, Avatar-esque world filled with original creations conjured up by the talented DreamWorks artists. Nicolas Cage voices the eponymous family's stubborn patriarch, Grug; Emma Stone voices his bored and semi-rebellious daughter, Eep; Ryan Reynolds voices the more evolved love interest, Guy.

Directors DeMicco (left) and Sanders (right) at The Croods' New York premiere.

The Croods was originally being made by Aardman, when they were still under contract with DreamWorks, under the guise of Crood Awakening, and was being co-scripted by John Cleese and DeMicco. Aardman left though, and, after his departure from Disney, Sanders came on board the project to direct in 2007 - before departing to helm Dragon, and then returning in May 2009 to co-direct with DeMicco.

Despite the interesting production, most critics who have voiced their opinions so far seem to be rather unimpressed with the characters and story. Total Film compares it to "if the makers of The Flintstones had ever taken hallucinogenic drugs," saying:

"Certainly, directors Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders seem to be on something, confronting their modern Stone Age family with trippy Avatar-style jungles and bizarre hybrid creatures.

Pity the creators didn’t put as much effort into the workaday story".

The visuals are widely praised - Skyfall cinematographer Roger Deakins was a visual consultant on the film - but The Hollywood Reporter feels "the character animation is not the prettiest". They summarise their review with:

"Further back on the evolutionary chain than the Flintstones, and also lagging in the comedy stakes, this sweet Stone Age clan nonetheless will captivate the youngsters."

Nonetheless, The Playlist (who weren't all too fond of the film) said it was largely greeted by "guffaws and applause" at the film's Berlin Film Festival premiere. It currently holds a 67% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, from 6 reviews.

It's hardly the wave of positive reviews we were hoping for, but the film still sounds pretty fun. I'll reserve judgement until I get round to seeing it myself. The Croods opens on 22nd March.

UPDATE -- 19/03/2013, 17:35(GMT): Things are looking up a bit for DreamWorks' latest; The Croods' Rotten Tomatoes score has now risen to 79%, from 14 reviews. New reviews include that of IGN, who gave the film a 7.8, saying:

"We may have seen the gist of The Croods before, but it's still a funny and often tender animated movie featuring fine voice work by Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds."

UPDATE #2 -- 20/03/2013, 20:32 (GMT): Things are definitely looking up for DreamWorks now, as The Croods is currently sitting at a very respectable 85%, from 27 reviews. To put that into perspective, last year's very good Rise of the Guardians only reached 74% (while Madagascar 3 got to 79%). In fact, last year's Oscar winner, Pixar's Brave, only reached 78%. Of course, further reviews may bring The Croods' score down a bit, but it's still a very reassuring sign.

We'll update this post with any more significant review changes as and when they happen.


  1. Munir Abedrabbo16 March 2013 at 18:42

    Those reviews are not very encouraging indeed. Mostly I think it might end up being like HT, fun but without substance. Anyway, I'll also reserve judgement until I see it mostly because Chris Sanders' previous efforts (Lilo & Stitch and HTTYD) are awesome.

  2. Munir Abedrabbo19 March 2013 at 15:56

    Things are looking up for The Croods and thinking about it, most of the films released last year were not as highly acclaimed as other years (at least not in RT standards). None of them achieved a 90% or higher, and the Oscar-Winning Brave was not even near Pixar's usual ratings (which are 90% or higher). Now of course, you can't rely entirely on RT as personal tastes are subjective but is always interesting to analyze critic's perception and The Croods, while not universally aclaimed as How to Train Your Dragon, seems to be a good film.

    RT scores for last year's animated films:

    The Lorax: 55%
    The Pirates!: 86%
    Madagascar 3: 79%
    Brave: 78%
    Ice Age 4: 37%
    ParaNorman: 87%
    Hotel Transylvania: 43%
    Frankenweenie: 88%
    Wreck-It Ralph: 86%
    Rise of the Guardians: 74%

  3. Yeah, I could see The Croods finishing up around the same mark as Madagascar 3 did. It's a real shame Guardians didn't get a bit more love.

    Either way, I'm still really pumped for The Croods!

  4. Munir Abedrabbo20 March 2013 at 00:25

    I want to be excited, but I'm not. I really need to see the film so I can determine my verdict. Still, I'm optimistic that I will like it because I wasn't pumped about HTTYD and I really hated the trailers but it turned out to be one of the best animated films of 2010 and Dreamwork's best so far (IMO) so The Croods still might be a pleasant surprise.

  5. Yeah, if we got put off my every animated film that was poorly marketed, then we'd never see any of 'em!